UMass coach looking for quicker start vs. Explorers

Massachusetts coach Derek Kellogg had a first-hand look at La Salle on Jan. 8 and he didn’t particularly enjoy the view.

La Salle beat the Minutemen, 82-75 at Tom Gola Arena in a game that the Explorers exploded early and held on late.

The Explorers led, 51-26 at halftime.

“In our particular contest, they looked like the Celtics of ’86 or the Lakers, up 26 at the half and they played a great game,” Kellogg said in a conference call. “They are a tough matchup.”

La Salle coach John Giannini says the same thing about UMASS. Actually, Giannini says it about any A-10 team.

“I don’t look at any game differently than the others,” Giannini said. “They are all killers.”

He is right.

Both teams have all week off before squaring off at UMASS on Saturday.

La Salle (17-9, 6-5) will attempt to snap a three-game losing streak following Saturday’s 59-51 loss to visiting St. Louis (one of the more underrated teams around).

UMASS (18-7, 7-4) also lost in Philadelphia, falling to St.Joseph’s 73-62 on Saturday.

Interesting stat – in the loss to the Hawks, UMASS point guard Chaz Williams had 10 assists and no turnovers.  And his team still lost by double figures.

Probably because the Mintuemen only attempted 10 free throws and were just 24 for 71 from the field and were outrebounded 47-37.

As for La Salle, the Explorers committed 20 turnovers against St. Louis.

“When we set screens and nobody is open, we have to keep trying to get open, instead of forcing the issue,” Giannini said. “That is why we had 20 turnovers.”

So La Salle will look to take care of the ball and attempt to resemble the team that played UMASS in the first half, the one the losing coach compared to an NBA champion.